President Donald Trump said Thursday night that he is willing to subordinate balancing the federal budget in favor of strengthening the military, possibly putting him on a path to clashing with his own pick for budget director.
"Our military is more important to me than a balanced budget," the president declared in an interview with commentator Sean Hannity on Fox News Channel.
Prioritizing the military over balancing the budget isn't at odds with positions Trump expressed during the campaign. While he said on the campaign trail that he did want to balance the budget, he also said that he knew it would take time and that rebuilding the military and America's industrial infrastructure were equally as or even more important.
But the president's flat statement Thursday night could put Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina, Trump's nominee to direct the White House Office of Management and Budget, in an uncomfortable position.
Mulvaney, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus and an early adherent of the limited-government tea party movement, is among the leading budget hawks in Congress, having co-sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to require balancing the federal budget.